During a visit to the MK Nature Center in October, eleven-year old Christopher “Topher” Jones of Boise listened intently as Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Paul Kline explained the challenges that Idaho salmon face and the history of Fish and Game’s sockeye salmon recovery efforts.
Listening to Kline detail his personal involvement with Fish and Game’s captive sockeye breeding program, Topher hung on every word while standing alongside his father and three siblings. Topher has a keen interest in Idaho’s anadromous fish, which are born in Idaho streams and migrate to the ocean and back, as well as the challenges those fish face.
Topher’s passion for the subject was sparked months before he met Kline, during a family trip to Fish and Game’s Sawtooth Hatchery, where he learned about Lonesome Larry – Idaho’s famous sockeye that was the sole sockeye that returned to Stanley in 1992. Motivated by his story and reports of struggling salmon populations, Topher decided to take action, and the “Lonesome Larry Project” was born.
With some help from his dad and siblings, Topher hatched a plan to raise money primarily by selling sockeye socks. The blue and red socks, emblazoned with the image of a male sockeye, can be purchased online at the Lonesome Larry Project website (lonesomelarryproject.com), which also has more information about the project and its young founder.
The self-dubbed “Sock Guy for Sockeye” will donate all proceeds to the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation. IFWF will distribute the funds through its competitive grant program, funding projects that benefit Idaho’s anadromous fish.
“This is a tremendous idea from a tremendously enterprising and conscientious young man, and the Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation is thrilled to be partnering with Topher and the Lonesome Larry Project,” Engle said. “We look forward to helping Topher make a difference, and ensuring that this funding goes to projects that directly benefit fish research and habitat projects.”